CHARLESTON (EIU) — Eastern Illinois athletics has announced the hiring of Lois (pronounced Loy-ce) Alexis as the Panthers' new women's tennis coach.

Alexis comes to EIU following a two-year stint as the head coach of Jackson State University, where she oversaw both the men's and women's programs. Just prior to taking over the Panthers program this fall, she guided Jackson State's men's program to the 2017 Fall HBCU National Championship in September. Her women's team placed second at the HBCU Championships. Her JSU women's doubles team of Lucia Solis and Tyler Smith were the No. 1 doubles team at the HBCU Championship.

In the spring of 2017, Alexis led both Tigers programs to second-place finishes in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) regular season standing. During both seasons at Jackson State, she guided both programs to the championship finals of the SWAC Tournament. In her first season at JSU, the Tigers men's program won the SWAC Championship, advancing to the NCAA Tournament where they lost to No. 4 TCU in the opening round. It was the first conference title for the JSU men's program in 18 years.

Prior to taking over the head coaching position at Jackson State, Alexis was an assistant coach for the Southern University women's tennis program from 2013-15. In addition, Alexis has worked at several Elite Camps and served as a Tennis Pro/Specialist for the YMCA in Baton Rouge, La., Ministry Sports in Grenada and Camp Lokanda in New York.

An accomplished player, Alexis was a three-time first team All-SWAC singles and doubles player at Southern University, twice winning the SWAC Championship. She made three NCAA Tournament appearances from 2011-13 earning both her bachelor's (2013) and master's (2015) degrees from Southern University.

She was ranked the No. 1 player in her native Grenada from 2002-14 and the No. 6-ranked player in COTEC (Caribbean and Central America). She was the Champion of the ITF Tournament in Jamaica in 2004 and a finalist at the ITF in Barbados in 2004 and St. Lucia in 2004.

Seig signs with EIU volleyball

CHARLESTON (EIU) — Eastern Illinois volleyball head coach Samantha Wolinski announced the signing of Hannah Sieg, who will join the Panthers for the 2018 season. The Normal, Illinois, native signed a national letter of intent with Eastern Illinois as the NCAA early signing period began today.

Sieg is a 6-1 middle hitter from Normal Community West High School. Sieg earned the honor of being named to the Big 12 All-Conference Team during her high school career. She also earned the honor of achieving the Brick, Offensive, and Sportsmanship awards throughout her high school career. She helped lead Normal Community West to win the Intercity, Urbana and Lincoln Tournaments. Off the court, Sieg obtained the honor of earning the Big 12 Scholar-Athlete and Scholastic awards. Sieg is a member of the Illini Elite club team, where she helped the Illini win the AAU National Volleyball Championship.

EIU volleyball returns to action on Friday where they are to travel to UT Martin for an Ohio Valley Conference showdown.

EIU student-athletes rank high in NCAA GSR

CHARLESTON (EIU) — The Eastern Illinois University Department of Athletics is graduating over 80 percent of its student-athletes, according to the 2017 NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR).

The NCAA released its most recent GSR data Tuesday, and it shows Panther student-athletes who entered school on athletic aid from 2007-10 posted an 83 percent GSR, with 12 of 16 measured programs generating a GSR of at least 80 percent. Cross country and both indoor and outdoor track and field count as one sport in the measurement.

The Panthers had four teams achieve a 100% rate over the period covering 2007-10: men's soccer, men's swimming, women's basketball and women's tennis. 

The Division I Board of Directors created the GSR in response to Division I college and university presidents who wanted data that more accurately reflected the mobility of college students than the federal graduation rate. The federal rate counts any student who leaves a school as an academic failure, no matter whether he or she enrolls at another school. Also, the federal rate does not recognize students who enter school as transfer students.

The GSR formula removes from the rate student-athletes who leave school while academically eligible and includes student-athletes who transfer to a school after initially enrolling elsewhere. This calculation makes it a more complete and accurate look at student-athlete success.

The rate also allows for a deeper understanding of graduation success in individual sports than the federal metric, which provides only broad groupings.

Four players earn All-Summit League honors

ELMHURST (EIU) — Eastern Illinois men's soccer has four players earning conference honors as the Summit League releases their All-Conference Team selections Wednesday afternoon. Mike Novotny, Alessandro Corti, Erik Isaksson and Edgar Mesa receive honors this season as they head into post-season play.

Senior goalkeeper Novotny earned All-First Team honors and is named the Summit League Goalkeeper of the Year. Novotny has logged 1,622 minutes so far this season and recorded six shutouts. Novotny holds an NCAA season high in saves per game with 16 saves against Western Michigan on Sept. 1. He has started and played in 17 of EIU's 18 matches, allowing only 17 goals. Novotny led the Summit League with 86 saves and a save percentage of .835, which also ranked 11th and 12th in the nation, respectively. He earned a goals against average of .94. Novtony has seven career Player of the Week accolades and collected three of them this season.

Corti earned All-Second Team honors for the Panthers. Corti started in 16 of EIU's 18 matches logging 1,534 minutes played this season. As a defender, Corti helped lead the Panthers to six shutouts this season helping EIU record a goals against average of 1.01. Corti recorded six shots for EIU and scored the tying goal in the Panthers season opener at Green Bay on Aug. 25.

Isaksson and Mesa were named to the Summit League All-Newcomer team. Both defenders helped lead the Panthers to six shutouts and a goals against average of 1.01. Isaksson started in 15 matches for EIU this season, logging 1,393 minutes on the field. He took six shots with three on goal, tallying one assist during regular season play. Mesa started 15 and played in all 18 matches for the Panthers, logging 1,708 minutes of playing time. He has one assist for EIU and took five shots with one on goal.

The other major awards were swept by No. 1 Denver, whom the Panthers will play in the first round of the Summit League Tournament Thursday. Jamie Franks earned Coach of the Year, Andre Shinyashiki earned Offensive Player of the Year, Scott DeVoss earned Defensive Player of the Year and Jacob Stensson earned Newcomer of the Year.

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Sports writer

Mike Monahan covers area sports for the JG-TC.

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